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What Does the Uvula Do?

Updated on January 8, 2016

You've had one all your life, but do you even know what your uvula does?

You might be surprised when you find out how much this little thing actually gets done!

By the end of this article you will no longer be confused about this little fella.

What is a Uvula?

And for those you that don't already know, that little "hangy deal" in the back of your throat is called a palatine uvula, or just uvula for short. It's the little teardrop of tissue that hangs down in the middle of the back of your mouth. It's attached to the soft palate (the back of the roof of your mouth) and it can actually move thanks to a muscle in the palate.


You see, there are two parts to the roof of your mouth... The front contains bone and is called the hard palate, but the back doesn't have any bone so it's called the soft palate. It contains muscles and is covered in a lovely mucus membrane. And the uvula is right in the center of this soft, muscly tissue.

The muscle that moves the uvula is called the musculus uvulae; this muscle helps move it around and shape it in different ways. I'm sure most of you have looked into the mirror, with your mouth open, and have made your uvula do a sexy little dance before, but now that you know what it is, let's get into what it does.


What Does the Uvula Do?

So, what exactly does this drop of mystery do, other than make you want to gag when you touch it? Well, some people might try to tell you that there is no use to it, but I don't believe that! In fact, there many uses for you uvula. And if you don't believe me, then you can call all of these things "theories", but let's get into it.

One of the biggest things that the uvula is supposed to take part in is blocking food and liquid that you swallow from going up into your nasal cavity. But, if you've ever laughed while drinking something, then you might realize that sometimes things you eat and drink can come out your nose. ;) But go ahead and try to swallow some saliva while breathing in through your nose, at the same time. You can't do it because the soft palate lifts up when you swallow and presses the uvula against the back of your throat. This seals off the nasal cavity, but as soon as you're done swallowing you'll be able to inhale through your nose.

That's a pretty important function, but the uvula is also said to play a part in our speech. It helps us make certain sounds that may or may not be possible without it. Why do I say that? Because some people have the uvula removed, for one reason or another, and seem to function just fine without it. But at least now you know some of the secrets behind the mysteries of the uvula, and if that wasn't interesting enough, some people actually get their uvula pierced!

Aren't You Glad YOU Have a Uvula?

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    • ptosis profile image

      ptosis 6 years ago from Arizona

      When you lick my auricula - my uvula bobs up and down.

    • JoshuaDR profile image

      JoshuaDR 6 years ago from Charleston, SC

      I'm so stupid... I was thinking vulva when I was reading this and couldn't figure out why there were pictures of mouths! Thanks for the hub. It may have saved me a lot of embarassment down the road.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 6 years ago from Texas

      Great hub! I have actually woke up in the morning a few times with it swollen but that hasn't happened in a long time.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I've always wondered about the uvula- and usually forget what it's called! This was a fun read :D

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 6 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Yeah homesteadbound, some people think it causes snoring, but yet when people get it removed they still snore so that may not be the case for all people, which is why I didn't include that.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Honestly Ardie! Google it! It's weird!


    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      Really interesting hub - it so easy to forget all about insignificant little bits of the body that carry out such an important job. Nice one!

    • merchantdoctor profile image

      merchantdoctor 6 years ago from Reno

      Interesting! Even though we never thought to ask!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      The punching bag, aka uvula is probably more important in languages that are have pops and clicks. Cute hub.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      It would be hard to stop the gag reflex if it was getting pierced. eeewww!

      Doesn't it also have something to do with snoring?

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Ha! I enjoyed reading this Hub about the hangy-thingy. I suppose at one point I knew what it was called since I did take medical terminology...but I forgot along the way. Voted all kinds of ways!

      JS, pierced?!?! Eeew oooow

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Interesting Hub Ben! I always wondered what that thing was for! I remember being a kid and watching cartoons where a character was swallowed by a whale and he beat it like a punching bag and was soon thrown-up! I have even seen pictures of people that have gotten their Uvula pierced with jewelry. That must have hurt! Great job! Voted up!


    • dipless profile image

      dipless 6 years ago from Manchester

      Interesting little hub, thanks for sharing.